You can't go to the beach without getting saltwater taffy, but if you've ever visited Coney Island or Atlantic City, you may have had another kind of old time candy: Turkish Taffy. Turkish Taffy candy was invented by Herman Herer in 1912 as a happy accident. A batch of his marshmallow candy had too many egg whites, and instead of tossing it, he made it into a kind of short nougat. He called it Turkish Taffy, though no one knows why he choose that name.
Herer sold his business to M. Schwarz & Sons, who in turn sold their business in 1936 to Victor Bonomo, who ran the Bonomo and Sons Company based in Coney Island, New York. And that's how Bonomo's Turkish Taffy came to be.
What is Turkish Taffy?
Bonomo Turkish Taffy is unusual because it's both a hard candy and a chewy candy. It's made of a mixture of corn syrup and egg whites, which was cooked and then baked. The resulting candy can be chewed, but it also takes a long time to melt in your mouth.
Originally, Bonomo sold the candy to Coney Island concessionaires. But then the company made a deal with Woolworth's, selling the candy to the department store in large sheets. Behind the candy counter at the store, employees would use a ball-peen hammer to break off shards of the candy that were then sold by the pound. in the late 1940s, they started selling Turkish Taffy in a candy bar size that people could break up on their own.
The candy started off with one flavor - the original taffy bars only came in vanilla - but later added peanut butter, chocolate, strawberry and banana flavors.
What happened to Turkish Taffy?
In 1972, Tootsie Roll Industries bought the rights to Bonomo Turkish Taffy, and then they changed the name, packaging and formula. The now soft candy was not a hit and the company stopped making it in 1989.
But the original retro candy never went out of style, even when fans couldn't buy it. And in 2002, Kenny Wiesen and Jerry Sweeney were able to buy the rights to the candy, eventually leading to more accessibility. It took almost 10 years for them to start production on the candy again, and now Bonomo Turkish Taffy is made in York, Pennsylvania with the original 1940s formula. You can buy the nostalgic candy in candy bars and bite-size twists at your favorite bulk candy store.
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This post was originally published on November 24, 2020.